Sone was the subject of the seminal exhibition Yutaka Sone: Jungle Island at the MOCA, Los Angeles, CA (2003). In 2002, he had a solo show entitled Travel to Double River Island at the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota City, Japan. In addition, Sone has participated in several major biennials, including the Whitney Biennial, New York, NY (2004), The 25th Biennal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2002), 13th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (2002), the Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey (2001), and Yokohama 2001: International Triennale of Contemporary Art, Yokohama, Japan (2001). In 2003, he represented his native Japan in La Bienale di Venezia, Venice, Italy. In September, 2006, Sone’s sculpture It Seems Like Snow Leopard Island inaugurated David Zwirner’s new space at 519 West 19th Street. The sculpture was previously featured in Sone’s solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bern in Bern, Switzerland – the largest European presentation of the artist’s work to date and the third in a trilogy of exhibitions including Yutaka Sone: X- Art Show at the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO and Yutaka Sone Forecast: Snow at The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (all 2006). This exhibition will be Sone’s third solo show at the gallery.
Yutaka Sone’s work encompasses painting, drawing, performance, sculpture, and video. From tiny crystal snowflakes to major works in marble, he is inspired by landscape; more specifically, snowy outdoor scenes. Many of his installations include live trees or plants, which, when interspersed with paintings, drawings, and sculptures, completely alter traditional gallery and museum exhibition spaces. Other prevalent themes are amusement, motion, play and desire, which in past
works have taken the form of roller coasters, the island of Hong Kong, and highway interchanges carved in pure white marble. In a range of diverse media, Sone explores his love of nature, and in particular snow and skiing, by emphasizing the individuality of natural forms through his choice of materials.
Reflecting and absorbing the light, and fluctuating between solid and ephemeral, Sone’s works in crystal and marble are clearly celebratory; in a sense they represent a perfect place or mindset while leaving much to the imagination. In his two-dimensional works, Sone further expores this ideal place within which particular moments may be captured: the habitat of the snow leopard, weather conditions, schematics of snowflakes, foliage, and mountains. In his installations, which are often intuitively constructed, Sone brings works in a range of media together to create environments that border on dreamscapes or fantasy worlds.
For this exhibition, Sone has created several new, hand-carved crystal snowflakes, ranging in size from six by six inches to nearly two by two feet in diameter, carved from single pieces of crystal in his studio in China. Each flake is, like those found in nature, unique – this aspect is reflected in their collective title, Every Snowflake Has a Different Shape. On display in the front gallery will be Ski Lift, a large-scale, carved marble sculpture depicting a highly-detailed ski lift surrounded by snow-covered trees. Displayed on the walls around the ski lift is a series of paintings that capture Sone’s
memories of one particular day of skiing. On Saturday, February 18th, 2006, two days after his exhibition X-Art opened at the Aspen Art Museum, Sone and three friends and colleagues – Benjamin Weissman, Peter Doig, David Zwirner, and Damon McCarthy – spent the day skiing on the slopes. Working from memory (there are no photographs or other documentation of the outing), Sone recreated specific moments of the day. We see the tips of his skis in the foreground, flying snow, and a tree at the bottom of the mountain where the group later congregated. The paintings are a testimony of Sone’s love for skiing as well as his joy and appreciation of close friendships and collaborations. At the same time, it is at moments such as these that Sone’s life becomes his art and his art becomes his life. His paintings, drawings, and sculptures form an ongoing conceptual journey towards what he refers to as an “unreachable place.” In these and all of his works, he attempts to reveal the exquisite and the ephemeral – qualities that allude to and celebrate our paradoxical relationship with nature.